We are on day 14 of our self-isolation and the initial adrenaline of the first few days is wearing off and I am catching myself having increased anxious and worried thoughts now (compared to the initial days during which I went into 'crazy - warrior - Mama - Bear - mode'). These incredibly unnecessary/unhelpful thoughts usually start out benign (can flour really replace shampoo should we run out?) but then they quickly gain speed and worse, weight: how is all of this going to turn out? will we remain healthy? will we remain safe? what will our future look like? and on and on and on... So.much.weight.
I play these scenarios in my head in regards to my family, my extended family, our friends, and all loved ones - and all of humankind. And animals. And nature. So you see, these anxious thoughts and worries could keep me busy until ... well, probably until it's all long been resolved.
So, when these negative thoughts come up, I stop myself and try my luck at the following three thought practices that (usually) do the trick for me and get me into a much calmer and safer space:
1. I try and separate my thoughts from myself. I remind myself that my reactions to this situation are just that: responses that I chose to outside circumstances. And since I am a human being who has the freedom and control to create whatever I want, I have the ability to choose a very different reaction. Again. And again. And again. Until my new response matches what I want to feel: optimistic, calm, happy. Having the liberty to always choose again is humans' greatest superpower:
“The one thing you can’t take away from me is the way I choose to respond to what you do to me. The last of one’s freedoms is to choose ones attitude in any given circumstance." - Victor Frankl
2. I try and remind myself that my anxieties are reactions to a future that has not happened yet. My family is healthy and we are safe for now. My world, albeit changed, remains full of light and love at this very moment. There is no need or point (or purpose!) in worrying in the NOW. If I can remain in the NOW (or at least try to get back to it when I find myself having regrets about the past, worries about current circumstances or anxieties about the future) then I will find that there is no resistance. Life is able to unfold just as it should:
“As soon as you honor the present moment, all unhappiness and struggle dissolve, and life begins to flow with joy and ease." - Eckhart Tolle
3. I practice thankfulness - the famous Attitude of Gratitude. For the longest time, gratefulness has been my saving grace, my magic key, and my ultimate weapon to find calm and contentment; fun and fulfillment; and light and love almost every day, even on days that are hard and painful. Especially on days that are hard and painful. When I remember all the things I am lucky to have in my life, I can drown out the noise, refocus on what is essential and remember that the negative/ hopeless / (fill in the blank) perception that I constructed in my mind was not my reality. Ages ago I found this quote by Melody Beattie and have been carrying it with me ever since:
Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend.
How lovely is this? Chaos into order, confusion to clarity, a meal into a feast, a house into a home and a stranger into a friend. Isn't this what we are all longing for?
And if we continuously refocus our minds to see all that we can be grateful for at this very instant, we might just find what we have been searching for.
I am sending you much love and light (and some crazy/timely/hopeful Laguna Beach art).